Gareth Bale gave serious consideration to a move to Manchester United when the club offered Real Madrid a world record £100m for him last summer, though the state of uncertainty at Old Trafford is thought to have contributed to him being persuaded to forget the idea.

After United’s offer came in, Bale was persuaded by then manager Rafael Benitez, with whom he enjoyed a good relationship before the Spaniard was sacked by Real three weeks ago, that his future lay in Madrid. But the 26-year-old and his representatives will also need persuading that United – who have now twice offered world record sums for Bale – have a cogent strategy in place and can offer him success, if they are to make a successful third move for their prime target this summer.

The United executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, is thought to be determined to hold on to manager Louis van Gaal until the summer if possible, rather than go through the mess of a mid-season change. The best scenario from the United board’s perspective is to get through to the end of the season and then amicably part company with the Dutchman, ahead of a more orderly succession. Though defeats in the next two games could make the position untenable, an emergency severance is more likely to push United towards an out-of-work Jose Mourinho, whose management style is a source of deep uncertainty at Old Trafford.